Phase II trial of pemetrexed and bevacizumab in patients with recurrent or metastatic head and neck cancer

Athanassios Argiris, Michalis V. Karamouzis, William E. Gooding, Barton F. Branstetter, Shilong Zhong, Luis E. Raez, Panayiotis Savvides, Marjorie Romkes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


Purpose: We hypothesized that bevacizumab, a monoclonal antibody against vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), will potentiate the activity of pemetrexed, a multitargeted antifolate, in squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN). Patients and Methods: Patients with previously untreated, recurrent, or metastatic SCCHN were treated with pemetrexed 500 mg/m2 and bevacizumab 15 mg/kg given intravenously every 21 days with folic acid and B12 supplementation until disease progression. Primary end point was time-to-progression (TTP). DNA was isolated from whole blood samples for the detection of polymorphisms in thymidylate synthase, methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR), and VEGF. Results: Forty patients were enrolled. The median TTP was 5 months, and the median overall survival (OS) was 11.3 months. In 37 evaluable patients, the overall response rate was 30%, including a complete response rate of 5%, and the disease control rate was 86%. Grade 3 to 5 bleeding events occurred in six patients (15%): four were grade 3, and two were fatal. Other serious toxicities in 10% or more of patients included neutropenia (10%) and infection (12.5%). One patient died of sepsis after receiving eight cycles of therapy. For the MTHFR A1298C (rs1801131) single nucleotide polymorphisms, homozygote patients with AA had worse OS (P = .034). Conclusion: The addition of bevacizumab to pemetrexed resulted in promising efficacy outcomes in SCCHN. Bleeding events were frequent but some may have been due to natural history of disease. Polymorphisms in MTHFR may offer potential for treatment individualization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1140-1145
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Mar 20 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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